To care or not to care

How much are you supposed to care?

A new mantra I’ve adopted says “it doesn’t matter how much you know, but rather how much you care”. I heard this earlier this year, but it had not been proven true to me until the middle of my most recent school semester. The spring semester was one of the toughest, most stressful, and agonizing school terms as of yet. I took more classes than any other semester, some online and in-class, all while my daughter was entering the “terrible two’s.”

In a few of my classes, I was required to work with partners and for one class in particular, I decided to partner with a student, who I believed was a top student. He had the best grades in class, understood the material and could practically re-teach the whole lecture.

We partnered up for three projects and before we started, he stated how much he did not care about the work we were about to do. He wasn’t interested and who could blame him, but for me, it was different. I did care and was genuinely interested in what we were working on. I didn’t just care about getting a good grade, but was curious about the process and getting a “preview” of something I might be asked to do some day during my career, possibly. Plus, I was taking away valuable time from my family to finish these assignments, no matter how mediocre, I needed a return in my investment and my time. I was going to use the assignment as a trial to build my confidence in myself and learn more about my capabilities. It was a difference of opinions and as long as the work was completed, that’s all we focused on.

We worked well, for the most part but not without some hick ups, naturally. He seemed to have a tough time staying focused since other students would ask for his help and other personal problems. Most of the assignments were rushed to get finished on the last day, but luckily, we both worked fast and efficiently. Once all the work was handed in, we agreed that we had challenged one another in ways we didn’t expect. We had different capabilities and I got to know which areas I was weaker in. Working with someone who approached the problem differently was an interesting learning experience. I was able to see a different side of myself that otherwise might not have been noticed. Through this partnership, I learned that staying humble and patient is the best remedy to staying motivated enough to finish the work together.

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